A bipartisan group of nearly 200 mayors from the country's largest cities called on Congress to protect the mail-delivery system ahead of this fall's presidential election, after cost-cutting measures taken by the Trump administration led critics to question whether the post office would be able to handle an expected deluge in mail-in voting.
The mayors urged legislative action to ensure the U.S. Postal Service could support a "robust vote-by-mail system," which they categorized as essential to maintain the integrity of the election, according to a letter sent to congressional leaders on Saturday by the United States Conference of Mayors.
The House of Representatives will vote on legislation Saturday to inject $25 billion of emergency funding into the cash-crunched post office.
The bill would also roll back certain changes — like limits on overtime and reductions of facility hours — that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy recently enacted at the Postal Service.
Critics suspected the measures were aimed at crippling the post office ahead of the election. DeJoy, who started his role in mid-June, is a major donor to Republicans and committees supporting Trump's reelection.
President Donald Trump said last week there would be no additional funding for the postal service if there's not a broader deal with Democrats on another coronavirus financial relief package. Those negotiations have been at an impasse for weeks. Trump later said he wouldn't veto a relief bill with postal service funding.
"The news of recent changes to the U.S. Postal Service's delivery process, coupled with the Administration's decision to withhold funding, is alarming and should be of grave concern to us all, particularly with the General Election only months away," according to the letter.
It was signed by the mayors of 170 cities, including of New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Dallas and San Jose, among the country's largest cities.
Mail-in voting will give all citizens an opportunity to vote in this year's election, the mayors said. It's a safe voting option that will protect public health, they said, as the general election plays out against the backdrop of a coronavirus pandemic that continues to ravage the country.
"This must also be a national priority," the mayors said of guaranteeing safe voting options. "Anything less not only threatens to undermine our democratic values but erodes the very fabric of our country."
DeJoy, who was grilled during Senate testimony on Friday, said this week that he would reverse some changes to avoid the appearance of influencing the election. The moves had been made to cut costs, he said.
However, the USPS chief testified that there's "no intention" to bring back mail-sorting machines that had been removed.
The reversals were a "positive step," according to the mayors, who cautioned that "we must be vigilant and relentless when it comes to a fair election, especially during these challenging times."